The Gaucho Museum and the Museo de la Moneda –the Mint Museum- share an ornate “palace” on Montevideo’s central avenue. The extravagant French and Italian-style building built in 1896 is reason alone to visit.
Like many of Montevideo’s museums, it is free to the public.
The Gaucho Museum
The Gaucho Museum on the third floor hosts a stunning collection of horse gear, silver and gold spurs, broad gaucho belts, mate gourds (the ritual drink in this part of the world) and tobacco-smoking equipment. Many items are around 150 years old.
I was surprised to see the sword of political revolutionary Aparicio Saravia amongst the beautifully-crafted swords and daggers. For Uruguayans supporters of the National political party, this would be like stumbling upon Excalibur in the centre of Montevideo!
The Museum of Money
The Mint Museum hosts artefacts from the National Bank including a decorated safe, numerous counting machines and an enormous hand-written ledger which sent shivers down my spine.
It is a real shame that the museums don’t include any information in English. As most of the items exhibited are easy to identify and the actual building is so remarkable, it’s not too much of an issue, however it does feel like a missed opportunity to familiarise visitors with gaucho culture.
Museo del Gaucho, Palacio Heber Jackson, 18 de Julio 998, Montevideo
Tel: 2900 8764 is open Monday to Friday from 10am till 4pm.
Now it’s time for coffee at the Clube Brasileiro
Several years ago when we first opened our guesthouse, a German philosopher visitor said to me that we should be in the business of selling nostalgia tours.
After visiting the Gaucho Museum, head next door and take the cage elevator to the cafe on the second floor of the historic Clube Brasileiro. The club is almost a hundred years old. The cafe doesn’t appear to have been redecorated (or the paintwork touched up if we are honest) in all that time – but that’s the way I love it.
What a great spot for breakfast or lunch or afternoon tea. The cafe serves fresh fruit smoothies (licuados) including blackberry, raspberry and blueberry (that’s mora, frambuesa and arándano, respectively).
We ordered coffee and icecream and loved it. I cannot vouch for the rest of the menu (yet!) but just like the museum, the surroundings are what you are there for.
Order cafe con leche instead of cappuchino. You’ll get enough hot milk and strong, strong coffee for three cups instead of just one.
It’s the only spot in Montevideo where I’ve seen the typical Brazilian dish feijoada on the menu. There’s also an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet on Tuesdays and Thursdays (380 pesos including a drink)!
Unfortunately the pool table is for members only.
Tell Diego the owner you read about the Clube Brasileiro on Guru’guay for a 10% discount!
The Clube Brasileiro, 18 de julio 994, 2nd floor, Montevideo opens Mondays to Fridays 8am till 10pm and Saturdays 8am till 5pm.
Featured photo Vince Alongi